A catchy, descriptive title and well-placed links can get a reader to your site. Then your content has to keep them there and guide them through the information you want them to have, which isn’t always easy. We’ve all had the experience of clicking on an article (or opening a book or starting a movie), excited based on the title or description, only to get a few minutes in and think “where is this going?” and back out for something that feels more worth our time. Especially online, where backing out is a single click, swipe, or tap away, it’s important that your content is written and presented in such a way as to guide the reader through to the logical conclusion you want them to reach.
Lucky for you, we have a few tips on how to do that.
1. Be descriptive in the introduction
The introduction needs to be interesting and hook the reader, but it also needs to get to the primary point within a few sentences and make it clear where the reader can expect to go. Even with a descriptive title, that’s not going to tell a reader everything about your content, so they’re going to be looking to the introduction for confirmation that continuing to read is worth their time.
2. Ask questions
By asking a question, and then following it up with a discussion and some type of answer, you’re establishing a clear sequence of thought for your reader. Not only does it make them more likely to stick with the entire piece, because they don’t worry that you’re not getting to a point or you’re veering off on something they don’t care about, but it makes the information clearer and easier to digest.
3. Use clear visual formatting
Yet another instance where headings and other visual cues to the flow of a piece are helpful. Headings, bolded text, or pull quotes not only emphasize certain ideas, but they break the content up, making readers less likely to give up on something because it seems too long or too daunting because of walls of text and making it easier to scan.
4. Edit for logical flow
When doing a final approval edit, or when discussing editing guidelines with your content team, think in terms of making sure that each paragraph and each discrete idea logically follow one from the other. A series of two or three that don’t seem to follow will get people to click away from your content, even if the fourth paragraph wraps it all up and brings it together.
5. Reinforce in the conclusion
Your conclusion needs two things. It needs to reinforce the primary idea that you just covered in your content, and it needs a call to action, ideally something that your reader should now feel equipped for after reading, whether it’s answering a question, requesting more information, or otherwise engaging with your products or services. Both of these will help reinforce your reader’s sense of having learned something and spent their time well on your content.
Use these tips and you’ll cut down on the dreaded “click and run” for the content you’ve put so many resources into. Above all, remember to value your reader’s time. We’re all so busy! Take a look at your content and see what changes you could make to help pull your readers along through your thought process and get them the information they need. And when you’re done, share what you found in the comments!